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The WriterThe Writer

The Writer November 2018

Since 1887 The Writer has provided the motivation, writing techniques, expert tips and compelling author insights that turn good writing into great writing. We’ll help you become a better writer, find markets for your work, understand the business of writing, follow industry news and trends, reach your goals, and more!

United States
Madavor Media, LLC
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12 Issues


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from the editor

Twitter may have earned its reputation as a cesspool for trolls and virtual shouting matches, but light does spring forth from the darkness on occasion. A few months ago, a hashtag began making the rounds in the writing community on Twitter: #ShareYourRejections. The response was shocking. Did you know that the great Roxane Gay was rejected from Bread Loaf so many times that she stopped applying just three years ago? Poet Saeed Jones is another recipient of multiple Bread Loaf rejections, and he’s got a Pushcart Prize to his name. Acclaimed author Jason Reynolds has had 40-plus picture books rejected, novelist Jami Attenberg’s own publisher rejected a manuscript that went on to become a New York Times best-seller, and prolific YA/MG author Shannon Hale received so many rejections for her…

access_time6 min.
to read or not to read?

“Don’t let anyone discourage you from writing. If you become a professional writer, there are plenty of editors, reviewers, critics, and book buyers to do that.”—Jane Yolen When I discuss style in the writing workshops I teach, I quote Voltaire: “Every style that is not boring is a good one.” I teach my students to compel the reader – and especially an editor’s attention – with a strong voice, dramatic tension, skillful scene-setting, and a sense of urgency. Recently, I was accused of not meeting Voltaire’s standard. A reader left a comment in response to my essay “The Trial Retirement: Are You Really Ready to Stop Working?” in the online publication Next Tribe. Granted a summer teaching sabbatical, I was exploring whether I was ready to retire. The comment that stung said simply:…

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Next Line, Please By David Lehman Every Tuesday, Best American Poetry series editor David Lehman challenges poets – both renowned and unknown – to write a poem following a certain set of restrictions as part of “Next Line, Please,” his interactive poetry column on The American Scholar website. Lehman’s column attracted a significant following, and now we have Next Line, Please: Prompts to Inspire Poets and Writers, a compilation of “Next Line, Please” prompts from 2014-2016. The resulting book of poetry prompts aims to provide “a masterclass in writing in form and collaborative composition.” The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process By Francesca Lia Block “I’ve written to transform pain, to save my mind from its incessant loopings, to save my life,” writes award-winning fiction author and memoirist Francesca Lia Block in…

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lauret savoy

“To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.”—Aristotle Lauret Savoy’s book Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape won the ASLE Creative Writing Award and American Book Award, was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award and PEN American Open Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Orion Book Award and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Savoy’s writing and editing often draw on her work as a geologist. She is co-editor of The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World and Bedrock: Writers on the Wonders of Geology and is a co-author of Living with the Changing California Coast. In addition to being an author and geologist, she is also a professor and photographer and currently serves as…

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taming the hostile audience

Opinions: we all have them, and it seems they get more vehement by the moment. We bandy them about in coffee shops and bus stops, our tone rising as we attempt to draw more recruits to our side. That same sense of urgency finds its way into our writing. But how often do those arguments really win us converts? Probably about as often as they do face-to-face. All too often, the arguments end in upset feelings, with each party more entrenched in their own positions. One party may retreat before those feelings erupt, opinions unaltered. Often, no amount of facts will turn a person’s opinion. We wonder: Why won’t people listen to reason? Most arguments are adversarial by nature. There is a winner and a loser. Often, the victor wins by…

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writing with kids, part ii

My daughter turns 2 years old this month. I have learned a lot about freelancing as a parent, yet I’m painfully aware there is much I will never know. Being human means forever pursuing knowledge, and nowhere do you feel further behind than as a parent. Every day, you wake up a moron. Last year, I wrote a column for this magazine on how to prepare a freelance writing career for a child’s arrival. In the months since, I’ve kept strategizing. It’s necessary. Being a good dad means having work under control, so Olivia and my wife get the best of me. Conversely, I must ensure my work doesn’t suffer because of my parenting duties. My hope is that any writer awaiting parenthood reads this (and last year’s article, available to read…